Vanessa Bryant, 38, lost her husband, Kobe, and daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
The holidays become a fresh reminder of loss for those who have lost a loved one. It's difficult not to miss the people who meant so much to us and were an integral part of our lives. Just because they are gone, they are not forgotten.
Vanessa Bryant, the wife of late NBA legend Kobe Bryant, is celebrating her first Christmas and New Year without her husband and daughter Gianna. Kobe and 13-year-old Gianna died in a tragic helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. Vanessa shared two family portraits this holiday season that shows how her family has changed.
One photo is from 2019, and it has the couple and their four daughters. The second one is of herself, 17-year-old Natalia, 4-year-old Bianka, and 1-year-old Capri. She shared a sweet message with the two images as well. "Always Together, Never Apart Together Forever In Our Hearts. Kobe, Vanessa, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and Capri," said the 38-year-old mother.
The mother also shared individual black and white portraits of her daughters, including Gianna's. Her thoughtful gesture makes her words "together forever in our hearts" come to life.
The 38-year-old mom had a special tribute to her husband, Kobe. She wore a wraparound ring – which reads "Kobe" – on her ring finger in place of her engagement and wedding bands, as per Hello!.
Days after the basketball player's death, Vanessa had posted a family photo on Instagram along with a message honoring her "adoring" husband and their "beautiful, sweet" child, according to Hello!. "My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them," she said.
"We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately," she said.
Nine people died in the helicopter crash, and the other families would also be having a hard time around the holidays. The other victims were identified as John Altobelli, his wife Keri & their daughter Alyssa, Christina Mause, Sarah Chester & her daughter Payton Chester, and the pilot, Ara Zobayan. They were traveling to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for Gianna's basketball game when their aircraft crashed in Calabasas, Los Angeles.
Over the course of the year, Vanessa and her daughters paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna many times. The matriarch of the family recently got a tattoo in honor of her family, as per PageSix. On Valentine's Day, she posted a tribute to her beloved late husband and added a dog to the family on Father's Day.
In August, she wrote, "As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughters' days shine a little brighter. I’m not the strong one, they are. They’re strong and resilient. I’m sure you’re proud of them. They put a smile on my face every day."
Even in these difficult times, she's facing issues from her own mother. The widow of the Hall of Fame Lakers legend criticized her mom for trying to extort money from her, reported CBS Sports. Sofia Urbieta Lain, 68, said that the NBA legend apparently "promised to take care" of her for life. She is now seeking financial support that would fulfill that promise.
Her daughter responded by accusing her mother of seeking to "extort a financial windfall" from her family in the wake of Kobe's death. "Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant's promise did not see the light of day as he is now deceased and Vanessa Bryant took each and every step she could to void and cancel all of Kobe's promises," the lawsuit claims, per the Associated Press.
Vanessa said that no such promises were made by her family. Instead, Sofia was allowed to live with them for free. "She was a grandmother who was supported by me and her son-in-law at my request," Vanessa said. "She now wants to back charge me $96 per hour for supposedly working 12 hours a day for 18 years for watching her grandchildren. In reality, she only occasionally babysat my older girls when they were toddlers," she said, as per CBS Sports.